I often hear parents with spouses who travel compare their lives to that of single parents. Being a single parent for ten years before being married to a man who we rarely see until the weekend arrives, I can tell you that the two situations are extremely different. Life without a co-parent is so much different than life with, for some very specific reasons.
Here are 10 reasons why single parenthood is not the same as having a spouse who travels a lot:
- You will be taking out the trash forever. I’ll never forget the evening I cried when I remembered the trash needed to go out. It wasn’t about the trash that night it was about the trash every week, the garbage disposal that wouldn’t work and the snow I needed to shovel. When you’re a single parent there is no time in the future when someone will be home to help with the household chores. They are always your responsibility.
- All the decisions- I’m an indecisive person by nature. When it comes to decisions big and small it’s so nice to have a husband I can call or text to weigh in on what to do when it comes to our kids. There’s no phoning a spouse when you’re a single parent– all the decisions, for good and bad, are yours to make.
- Bedtime. When my daughter was young, my dream guy was someone who would walk in the door and have no problem taking over the bedtime routine. Just once I wanted to shut myself in my room with a good book while someone else negotiated baths and teeth-brushing and one more story.
- The daily download– When he’s not home, I never take for granted being able to call my husband and give him a recap of our day. No one wants to hear about what our kids ate for breakfast or the cute thing my son said through the bathroom door like my husband does. As a single parent, sharing the monotony of your day with anyone you happen to talk to can fall on uninterested ears.
- Birthdays- No one quite appreciates the anniversary of the birth of your child like the people who were there. My oldest daughter’s birthday has always had a few melancholy moments for me because our life together didn’t turn out how it was supposed to. Of course I loved our years of closeness but there’s nothing like reflecting on the birth of your child with someone who cherishes that moment just as much as you do.
- “I’m calling your father!” Man I love to say that phrase, because I was never able to in the past. The discipline laid 100% on my shoulders. There was no stronger voice to back me up or, better yet, hand the situation over to. Telling my kids I’m going to have to talk to their dad about whatever they just spilled on the kitchen floor makes the broom and dust pan appear. It’s a magical trick I truly appreciate now that I can use it.
- Going anywhere alone- My husband is generally not home to keep the kids so I can’t even run a quick errand on my own. When he is home it’s glorious. Knowing you have a weekend ahead where you can escape for a few hours can do wonders for helping you get through the week. When you’re a single parent that “weekend” is no where in sight.
- Guilt. Being a single parent comes with a lot of guilt. You wonder if your child is going to grow up okay without two parents. You hate leaving them with a babysitter instead of family. You work to fill in any gaps having one parent can create. There’s a heap-load of guilt associated with life parenting solo.
- The financial burden- When you’re married there’s someone else equally responsible for the upcoming mortgage payment. Your financial situation lies on both of your shoulders. Whether your spouse can balance a checkbook or not, he or she is at least there to share the burden. Single parenting comes with being singularly responsible for late payments and college savings accounts.
- Sharing the experience- If this were a list stacked by importance this would be number one for me. The biggest thing I missed out on, and still do, by raising my daughter on my own is someone to share her life with. I love being able to share every small and large moment of parenting my kids with my husband. There is no one happier or more devastated by the rollercoaster of parenting our children than my husband. When my oldest had highs and lows growing up it was just me. No one experienced it all as deeply as I did.
Single parenthood can be a lonely road but even with the lows I still look back on those years with my daughter as my favorite time with her. We laughed over the household disasters I couldn’t fix and cried together when things went wrong. Our small family was a tight little unit of two that I loved beyond measure. Although a third to take out the trash at ten at night during a blizzard would have been much appreciated.